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Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite
High Stakes is a western by Chad Strong. Victoria is a bustling town filled with gambling saloons, prostitution, and corruption. Curt Prescott enjoys this easy lifestyle, using the winnings acquired from his skilful poker playing to support his girlfriend Del and himself. However, the new pastor, Bud Andrews, and his dictatorial wife embark on crusades to cleanse the town of its immoral behaviour, much to the displeasure of Curt and other residents who are threatened with losing their source of revenue. Curt believes that if he embarrasses the Andrews by seducing their daughter, Mary, they will relocate. He acts on his idea, aware of the distrustful eyes of Mrs. Andrews, but oblivious to the plan Pastor Bud has for him. While Curt secretly woos Mary who is attracted to him, Fat Johnny and his henchman believe Curt cannot save their livelihoods. They take matters into their own hands by committing murder and framing him.
Chad Strong has written a charming western story. High Stakes contains a mild spiritual based theme, humour, and good, old-fashioned gun slinging action. The characters are entertaining, and the dialogue is colourful and witty, or sometimes pensive. It was interesting how Curt dealt with his conflicting moods when he becomes acquainted with the Andrews, and the pressures of dealing with the locals, determined to save their sinful city. Chad Strong did not give hints leading to the emotional conclusion, hence its suspense. High Stakes is original, written with spiritual undertones and romance that made it a pleasant read.